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Truthdigger of the Week: Peter Beinart

Posted on Aug 17, 2014

    Peter Beinart. Photo by Center for American Progress Action Fund (CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Alexander Reed Kelly

(Page 2)

Third, Beinart rejects the claim that Gazans sabotaged their own economy. Full of anti-Jewish resentment, Palestinians are said to have torn down greenhouses that vacating Israeli settlers left behind in hopes Gazans would use them to create jobs. Australian-Jewish businessman James Wolfensohn, who was involved in the greenhouse deal, does not endorse this account. Beinart quotes Wolfensohn as writing in his recent memoir that the greenhouses were left “essentially intact” and what really doomed the initiative were Israeli restrictions on the export of Gazan goods. “[T]heir success relied upon the Karni crossing [between Gaza and Israel], which, beginning in mid-January 2006, was closed more than not. The Palestine Economic Development Corporation, which was managing the greenhouses taken over from the settlers, said that it was experiencing losses in excess of $120,000 per day,” Beinart quotes Wolfensohn as writing.

It is an unfortunate fact that as a class, partisan pundits habitually treat statements of fact as bias-driven political arguments. Beinart confronts this circumstance head-on in a long passage from his conclusion.

“The point of dredging up this history is not to suggest that Israel deserves all the blame for its long and bitter conflict with Hamas,” he writes. “It does not. Hamas bears the blame for every rocket it fires, and those rockets have not only left Israelis scarred and disillusioned. They have also badly undermined the Palestinian cause.

“The point is to show—contrary to the establishment American Jewish narrative—that Israel has repeatedly played into Hamas’ hands by not strengthening those Palestinians willing to pursue statehood through nonviolence and mutual recognition.” It “played into Hamas’ hands when Sharon refused to seriously entertain the Arab and Geneva peace plans. … When it refused to support a Palestinian unity government that could have given Abbas the democratic legitimacy that would have strengthened his ability to cut a two state deal. And … when it responded to the group’s takeover of Gaza with a blockade that—although it has some legitimate security features—has destroyed Gaza’s economy, breeding the hatred and despair on which Hamas thrives.”


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A distracted public cannot remind itself of what it may never have learned in the first place. Beinart’s essay stands as an antidote to the corrupting poison poured into the minds of average observers by pundits who are irresponsibly partisans of truth rather than champions of a distinct cause who are also faithful to facts. When it accumulates in those minds, disinformation leads to the triumph of policy that can result in death, as it has for almost 2,000 Palestinians since the start of Israel’s latest military campaign. Beinart’s piece makes it possible for those voters to know otherwise. For practicing fidelity in reporting to what actually happened, we honor him as our Truthdigger of the Week.

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